Clear link between diet and depression

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Recent research shows the link between young adults who suffer from depression and an unhealthy diet.

Those experiencing the mental illness present significantly fewer symptoms of depression after eating a healthy diet for three weeks.

This is according to a study published in open-access journal ‘PLOS ONE’ by Heather Francis from Macquarie University, Australia, and colleagues.

Already, research exists that show the link between eating a healthy diet and depression. However, there have been very few randomised, controlled trials directly examining the link between the two. More specifically including young adults, who are establishing health patterns and are also at higher risk for depression.

Francis and colleagues studied 76 university students (17-35 years of age) exhibiting moderate-to-high depression symptoms, who also follow a poor diet. They randomised participants into a ‘diet change’ group or a ‘regular diet’ group. The diet change group were given brief instructions on improving their diet. As well as $60 and a healthy food hamper.

At the end of the three weeks, the diet change group had successfully maintained a healthy diet. They also showed significant improvement in mood, with depression scores shifting into the normal range. The regular diet group’s depression scores remained stable, in the moderate-to-high range. The diet change group also showed significantly lower anxiety scores than the regular diet group. Although, other measures were not significantly different between the groups.

According to the authors, modifying diet to reduce processed food intake and increase consumption of fruit, vegetables, fish and olive oil improved depression symptoms in young adults.

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